We are Strong


Today I sat with a friend, Carrie,  as she had a double biopsy on her breast.  What the hell was she thinking that she could go by herself.  I know what she was thinking… because she is strong like me… “I can do this on my own… I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.”  The truth is, we CAN do it on our own, but this is one of those times it is ok to have someone hold your hand. It is time to be okay with being scared and allow someone else to be there for you.  I knew Carrie would not ask me to come or say yes if I asked.. So I just showed up.


Sitting in the waiting room, anticipating her name being called, we tried to distract ourselves with conversation.  We entered the hallway of rooms where women were enduring exams of their own. Room 2… Following direction, Carrie undressed waist up and put the attractive drawstring gown on.  I sat in the one chair by the side of the examination bed, while paperwork was looked over an initialed. Carrie is no stranger to exams, tests, doctors visits, and knows more terminology than she should.  She started asking questions, I think in part to just talk and distract herself. It was my job to do the distracting. I tried my best to bring the intensity in the room down and to talk about anything that would help calm her nerves.  The ultrasound screens were on and there were several photos on display. Carrie asked me if I wanted to see. She educated me, and I learned she had two nodules in one of her breasts. To me, it looked like the sac when you get your first ultrasound with a baby.  It was interesting to see, but also scary, not knowing what I was looking at or what it meant. Were these tumors, were they benign, were they cysts? I don’t even know what a nodule is…

The nurse prepared Carrie for the procedure.  She drew two X’s on the areas to be biopsied. The doctor entered the room and she was poised and pleasant but quiet and ready to do her job.  She went over what was going to take place. Sometimes you think … just do it… I don’t want to know what you are doing. Numb me up… and do it.   Carrie laid on the table on the side of her body facing up with the breast to be worked on. The doctor was right next to me, I could have been her assistant.  I was definitely not prepared for watching this biopsy… but at the time, all that mattered to me was being there for my friend, supporting her and letting her know someone that loved her was in the room… she wasn’t alone.  

The doctor unwrapped needles and syringes, bandages and different antiseptics and drugs to numb the area.  I was in awe of all of the technology and supplies, and how knowledgeable they were at their trade. The first LARGE needle was injected into Carrie to numb her up.  I watched as her cold little toes flinched. I was glad she wasn’t able to see what I was, and thankful she would be numb within seconds. The Lidocaine burned, but soon all that was left was nerves, no pain.  The second needle made the first look miniature. I would describe it like a skinny metal straw that they use as a tunnel to guide the third needle into the nodule. As the third needle enters the tunnel, you can see all of this on the screen just above Carrie.  It was amazing how precise everything was. The needle punctured the nodule and was pushed through to the other side. On the count of three, a sound of a stapler was made and the needle was zapped through the nodule and back out the tunnel. The first sample had been taken.  The assistant squirted the needle with alcohol and what ran off into the dish was what would be biopsied. Five samples were taken from the first nodule. Onto the second. I sat in awe of Carrie… I was overtaken by her strength and courage and wanted this to be done as quick as possible for her.  She was taking every minute like a warrior. As soon as the needle hit the second nodule, it collapsed. When the doctor pulled the needle out, there was nothing on it. She was surprised, but seemed happy. She believed it to be a cyst… which is a GOOD thing. Going back in for a second sample, it was hard to find the nodule/cyst at all.  No matter the news… this was one thing we knew was a good thing. Samples were all taken and the needles and tubes were removed. The procedure was done. I could not believe how little she bled and that it looked like she had two bug bites where the incisions had been made. The human body is a miraculous thing. The doctor looked at Carrie and said, “Ok, we are done… thank you”, and left.  So procedural. She was as pleasant as can be, nothing to complain about… but you realize, these doctors can not get emotional or involved… they keep it completely procedural, they do their job and that is it.

I sent Carrie’s husband a text, telling him what a rock star his wife was.  As much as I know how strong she is, I was glad I was there for her. Markers were left in the areas they biopsied and she had a mammogram immediately after to make note of everything with the markers in place.  

I sat in the waiting room as Carrie finished up.  I was having a moment. Surrounded by women of all ages, all there for the same reasons.  Having exams, mammograms, biopsies or receiving results, good and bad news about their breasts.  It is quiet and cold and erie in these centers. You can hear a pin drop. No smiles, no laughter, a lot of nerves and an energy in the room that can send you into a panic in an instant.  My anxiety was so high, and I was only there for support. I looked around and took visual recognition of all the women I saw. The deep set wrinkled face old lady who limped up to the counter when her name was called and the mom sitting in the back with her giggly toddler.   Everyone around me that day was a warrior… a fighter and a woman who was enduring the many battles women have to come to face. Although I felt the anxiety, emotions of fear, I also felt the strength and courage. We women are STRONG and BRAVE and we kick some serious ass. We just do…  we do because we won't give up and we don’t give up. Having our menstrual cycle is just another day to us, but it is a big deal. Having a baby… just another day, but a major life changing event, not only for the obvious, but emotionally and physically. Gyno appointments, breasts exams… we just do it…   And as we move through the days of our lives, we have no idea that the woman sitting next to us on the bus, or waiting in line for coffee or picking their kid up from school, was just at that same diagnostic center I was, having tests, or receiving life changing results regarding breast cancer.

Love yourself, love the women around you and love your boobs!  Embrace your strength and courage and be proud that you are a woman of power and beauty. 

Angela Wingard